Apps to Customize Your Mac’s Keyboard Settings

macOS-compatible keyboard apps designed to improve typing speed, facilitate navigation and provide additional functionality.

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better touch tool macOS

Are you interested in reclaiming the function keys on your Mac? Do you find the Caps Lock key to be taking up unnecessary room? Would you prefer to utilize the underutilized right Shift key more effectively?

If you’re seeking a method to personalize the fundamental keyboard functions, incorporate fresh shortcuts, reassign key functions, or enhance your navigation speed without having to reach for your mouse, these capabilities can be achieved using a selection of applications, many of which are available for free.

Karabiner-Elements

Karabiner-Elements

Karabiner-Elements stands out as the foremost keyboard customizer for macOS. Boasting expansive support for personalization and incorporating features absent in alternative tools.

Through the utilization of Karabiner-Elements, you gain the ability to reconfigure your complete keyboard setup, whether it’s the integrated keyboard on your MacBook, a Magic Keyboard, or a third-party USB keyboard. It facilitates straightforward adjustments such as mapping one key’s behavior to mimic another or executing intricate alterations according to your personalized guidelines. A multitude of these customized rules can be readily downloaded, alleviating the necessity of constructing them from scratch.

Furthermore, you have the option to recover your function keys by deactivating specialized functions like screen brightness and volume control. This empowers you to assign alternative functions to these media keys, subsequently employing the distinct functions on standard keys like Caps Lock or the right Shift key.

Karabiner-Elements empowers the establishment of profiles, the application of modifications specific to individual keyboards, or the creation of overarching rules that impact all input devices. It’s an application that might not immediately seem essential until you fathom its capabilities and recognize the level of productivity enhancement it can provide.

Download:Karabiner-Elements (Free)

Thor Launcher

thor launcher

Thor represents a straightforward solution for seamlessly transitioning to the desired application using a designated hotkey. The attractiveness of the application lies in its uncomplicated nature: select an application, click the “Record Shortcut” option, and designate a key combination. Whenever you activate the shortcut, Thor promptly shifts to the chosen app or initiates its launch.

If the need arises, you can swiftly deactivate Thor by performing a double-tap on a modifier key of your preference. Determining the most fitting shortcuts to employ stands out as the primary challenge. We discovered that the Control key is particularly advantageous due to its unobtrusive nature compared to certain other modifier keys. Furthermore, shortcuts such as Control + E (for Microsoft Edge) or Control + P (for Adobe Photoshop) possess a high level of memorability.

While alternative applications can replicate Thor’s functionality, they generally exhibit higher complexity as they revolve around multiple other features.

Download: Thor Launcher (Free)

Keyboard Maestro

Keyboard Maestro

Keyboard Maestro stands out as one of the most potent applications in its category designed for macOS, boasting an extensive range of customization options catering to diverse user needs. Its core functionality revolves around triggers and corresponding actions, encompassing more than just keystroke triggers.

Arguably, the most prominent feature that sets this application apart is its capability to craft an unlimited number of shortcuts. As an illustration, it allows users to employ a keyboard shortcut for inputting specific information, such as their name or email address. Furthermore, it serves as a text expansion tool, enabling the substitution of a trigger phrase, like “myname,” with an extended string like “John Doe.”

However, these functionalities merely scratch the surface of Keyboard Maestro’s capabilities, which justifies its price point of $36. In exchange for this cost, users gain access to an all-encompassing clipboard manager, a launcher for applications, support for AppleScript and XPath, manipulation of windows and mouse cursor actions, MIDI control, action-oriented macros, and a host of additional features.

Fortunately, the option to download Keyboard Maestro and experiment with its features is available prior to committing financial resources. Whether you’re an enthusiast for automation or simply seeking a means to initiate scripts, macros, and other desktop actions, Keyboard Maestro stands as the quintessential application.

Download: Keyboard Maestro ($36, free trial available)

rcmd

rcmd macOS

rcmd represents a straightforward application designed for Mac systems. Its purpose is to enable the utilization of the right Command key in conjunction with letter keys on the keyboard, thereby providing access to various applications installed on your device.

To illustrate, by employing rcmd, you can simultaneously press the right Command key and, let’s say, the key F, which corresponds to the initial letter of an application you intend to transition to or initiate Finder (provided it’s inactive) on your Macintosh. Moreover, if Finder is already operational and in focus, you can seamlessly shift to another application commencing with the letter “F.”

The process of configuring shortcuts within rcmd demands only a brief span of seconds. To simplify matters, the application provides step-by-step guidance via the macOS menu bar. Furthermore, you possess the capability to alter the trigger from the right Command key to a combination of modifier keys. Similarly, in order to prevent inadvertent activations, the application grants you the ability to deactivate specific letters from registering while it remains operational.

As you consistently employ rcmd, it will gradually assimilate insights from your usage patterns and subsequently propose applications that align more closely with your preferences. In instances where an application exists on an alternate desktop, activating the designated keyboard shortcut will seamlessly transport you to that specific desktop.

Download: rcmd ($5.99, free trial available)

BetterTouchTool

BetterTouchTool macOS

BetterTouchTool stands out as a robust application designed to enhance the personalization of various input mechanisms on your Mac system, including the keyboard. In this regard, it offers the capacity to establish tailored keyboard shortcuts for diverse application functions, initiate app launches, establish text-based triggers, reassign keys, and undertake additional tasks.

Beyond its keyboard customization capabilities, BetterTouchTool encompasses various other valuable functionalities. A prime example is its role as a clipboard manager, adept at overseeing your clipboard history. Furthermore, it operates as a proficient window manager, facilitating the seamless alignment of applications across different regions of the display, thereby augmenting multitasking efficiency.

For MacBook proprietors equipped with a Touch Bar, BetterTouchTool provides the avenue for personalization, enabling augmentation of its utility. This enhancement can be achieved by the incorporation of widgets and shortcuts, along with the configuration of gestures to expedite frequently executed operations. Similarly, if your MacBook incorporates a notch, you also gain the ability to tailor certain aspects of its behavior, thus extracting enhanced utility from this feature.

Download: BetterTouchTool ($10, free trial available)

Shortcat

Shortcat

It’s a well-known fact that slowing down occurs when you remove your fingers from the keyboard. The intention of Shortcat is to address this issue by eliminating the necessity of extending your hand towards the mouse or trackpad. All that’s required is to activate Shortcat using the designated keyboard shortcut and then commence typing the designation of an element visible on the screen.

Shortcat will emphasize any item that corresponds to your typed inquiry. Subsequently, you can effectively “click” on the accurate element by simultaneously holding the Control key and the pertinent shortcut displayed on the screen. Furthermore, you have the ability to switch between elements using the Tab key and perform actions like clicking, double-clicking, or hovering using the applicable shortcut.

If you’re prepared to invest time in mastering the utilization of Shortcat, you’ll adeptly navigate your Mac without relying on a pointing device. This functionality extends across the entire system and applies to applications like Messenger, although its compatibility may not extend to every third-party app you encounter.

Download: Shortcat ($18, free trial available)


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